In Bob Woodward's new book, Rage, the journalist describes a scene from 2017 in which President Trump pushed then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis to "kill" Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after he launched a chemical attack on civilians. Mattis, Woodward reports, opted for a more measured approach in the end.
In response to the excerpt, Trump said last week that assassinating Assad "was never even contemplated, nor would it be contemplated," while generally describing the book as "fiction." The denial didn't last long.
On Tuesday, Trump hopped on the phone with the Fox & Friends team for 47-minute chat and admitted he was indeed "all set" to assassinate Assad and "would have rather him taken him out," but "Mattis didn't want to do it." The president then went on a tangent about Mattis, whom he often openly criticizes, before eventually telling host Brian Kilmeade that he doesn't regret not going through with the plan. "I could have lived either way with that," he said.
"I would have rather taken him out" -- Trump says he wanted to assassinate Bashar al-Assad, but Mattis stopped him pic.twitter.com/pUcFTSW2w9
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 15, 2020